Bengaluru: The Congress Karnataka unit president D K Shivakumar on Thursday described the BJP government’s plans to free Hindu temples from state control as a historic blunder and said that his party won’t allow it.
He said the temples that are currently owned by the government were the state’s wealth and its treasury.
“They are doing a historic blunder, how can Muzrai (department) or government temples be given to local people for administration? It is the wealth of the government, wealth of the treasury, crores of rupees are collected by these temples. What political stand are they (BJP govt) trying to take look at some other states?” Shivakumar said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said it cannot be done in Karnataka and Congress will not allow it.
“On January 4 we are having a meeting of all senior Congress leaders, during which we will discuss this and come out with our stand,” he added.
The Karnataka government will bring in a law aimed at freeing Hindu temples from laws and rules that control them at present, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said while addressing the state BJP executive meeting at Hubballi on Wednesday.
“I want to tell this executive that our government will bring in a law to this effect before the budget session. We will free our temples from such laws and conditions. Other than regulation, there won’t be anything else. We will ensure that they are managed independently,” he had said.
This is seen as another major move by the Bommai government after it got the contentious “Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021”, popularly known as the ‘anti-conversion bill’ passed in the legislative assembly, ahead of 2023 assembly elections.
The Bill, however, is yet to become a law as it is pending for tabling and passage in the Legislative Council.
A total of 34,563 temples in the state come under Muzrai (Hindu religious endowment) department that has been categorized as grades A, B and C, based on their revenue generation.
A total of 207 temples with annual revenue above Rs 25 lakh come under category A, 139 temples between Rs five lakh to Rs 25 lakh come under category B, and 34,217 temples with less than Rs 5 lakh annual revenue under category C.
It has been a long-standing demand from several Hindu organisations including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) that temples should be freed from government control and they be handed over to the Hindu society.